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We Profile Chicago's Hottest New Playwrights!
(part three)

Playwright Kristiana Rae Colón
Playwright Kristiana Rae Colón

Meet Dionysos Cup Playwright Kristiana Rae Colón. (The Festival Starts July 10!)

Polarity models the Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays after the City Dionysia, the ancient Greek festival that honored the god Dionysos with new drama. Inherent in the Greek tradition is the oral tradition. Drama in the ancient world elevated the spoken word to celebrate religion, editorialize events and inspire philosophy.

It's appropriate then that one of the featured plays in this year's Dionysos Cup, Octagon by Kristiana Rae Colón, places itself in the oral tradition, presenting the world of spoken word poetry.

Octagon's action centers on the backdrop of a last-minute poetry slam where eight young poets compete. The play's action seem to invoke the god Dionysos. The story works to rip open the clichés of the open mic, dramatizing the cost of making a spectacle by tearing at one's already open wounds.


Kristiana says the play “ . . . borrows the idea of an octagon as a place for battle, though in this case a battle of words rather than martial arts. It plays on the idea that in these tightly knit artist communities, love triangles are the simplest form of romantic drama, but often we find ourselves tangled in love pentagons or octagons, and all manner of unconventional shapes.”

Kristiana's objective is to challenge the audience “to the core on issues that span politics, sexuality, and religion,” Octagon seeks to balance the timely with the timeless, where it wants to be “at once a celebration of the world of poetry slam, a peek into a subculture that most won't be familiar with, and a challenge to consider the privilege of free speech and the tension between the artist and the rest of society.”

“I learned that being writer was viable as a career choice from my mentors in the poetry slam world,” and like the Ancient Greek, Octagon uses poetics to explore the human condition. “My writing style has always been very lyrical and poetic, but with Octagon, I wanted to merge my loves of theater and poetry slam in the most literal possible way and actually excavate the world of slam in a play. I was also really excited about the challenge of writing poetry in the voices of eight characters!”

Kristiana's writing inspirations are authors who “bring voices of color from the margin to the center in innovative ways that give me courage.”

These writers extend from her poetry slam mentors, Kevin Coval, Idris Goodwin, Nikki Patin, Tara Betts, Krista Franklin and avery r young; out towards more global influences. She loves the heart-wrenching and magical work of Warsan Shire in London; Chinaka Hodge in LA with her comprehensive voice as a poet, educator, playwright and screenwriter (and the fact that Ms. Hodge can “look fly” in all of her authorial roles); and the aesthetics of Ntozake Shange, the noted writer, educator and performer/director.

This is the first time for Ms. Colón submitting to the Dionysos Cup Festival. She's found that a dedicated development process with "live bodies with voices bringing my words to life" helps her discover things about the script that she could not discover alone in her writing room. The work also benefits from a long-standing relationship with Tara Branham who has directed the piece in two other readings, one for Bailiwick in November 2013 and one for Trellis at the Greenhouse in April 2014. Kristiana considers Branham, “a phenomenal partner in the development of my work. I first became acquainted with her work through seeing Prologue's Patria Libre, and felt like she would be a great fit for my writing so sought her out. We've been great friends ever since.”

Octagon promises to be an exciting piece of drama and one that should make this year's Dionysos Cup come alive with the tradition of the ancients while bringing the audience an extremely contemporary experience.

Get your Dionysos Cup tickets now. All performances will be held at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago 60614. Single tickets are $10 each; full festival passes are $15 each.

The plays are Outside/Inside by Jenny Seidelman; Helen Young, Director; Neal Ryan Shaw, Dramaturg. Octagon by Kristiana Colón; Tara Branham, Director; Hutch Pimentel, Dramaturg. The People of Chicago by Helen Valenta; Jen Poulin, Director; Maggie Carlin, Dramaturg. The Running Mate by Skye Robinson Hillis; Andrea Dymond, Director: Jesse Roth, Dramaturg. Sarah Grant is the Festival Producer. Artistic Director: Richard Engling

Please join us for the festival. There's free parking in the lot a block north.

Polarity Ensemble Theatre invites you to CELEBRATE THEATRICALITY!

Join us on July 20th, 7:30 p.m. at the Greenhouse Theater Center as we raise funds for our 2014-2015 season. Celebrate your own theatricality by arriving dressed as your favorite literary, theatre or film character. Best costume of the night wins tickets to our upcoming world premiere production of Miracles in the Fall!

Join Us July 20, 2014!

Mingle with our award-winning company over food and drink, all included. Bid on treasures at our silent auction. Enjoy live musical entertainment by classic rock band, Union Jack, featuring Polarity board member and ace set designer, Chuck Palia.

Purchase your tickets early and save! Prior to July 14th, tickets are $45 each or 4 for $160 using the promotional code "four". Starting July 14th, all tickets are $50. Purchase tickets online at the Greenhouse Box Office or call 773-404-7336.

Raise a glass and celebrate with us!

Support a Season of All New Work!

The Polarity Ensemble Theatre 2014-2015 Season is amazingly ambitious, including two world premiere plays by Chicago-area playwrights and two original novels!

Chuck O'Connor
Playwright Chuck O'Connor

First up will be MIRACLES IN THE FALL by Chuck O'Connor, playing September 4 through October 5, 2014. Chuck's play operates like a work by Eugene O'Neill. The deep betrayals of the past twist the lives of the Connelly family, nearly destroying the next generation. MIRACLES IN THE FALL was developed in our 2013 DIONYSOS CUP FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS. It will be directed by Richard Shavzin, director of our award-winning 2013 production of Bill Jepsen's comedy, NEVER THE BRIDESMAID.

The Afterlife Trilogy

It has been almost 30 years since award-winning author Fern Chertkow ended her own life, but her legacy lives on through the Afterlife Trilogy, a unique undertaking that fuses her writing with the work of novelist, playwright Richard Engling and the creative team at Polarity Ensemble Theatre.

Paying tribute to the late author, the trilogy combines two novels: Visions of Anna by Engling and She Plays in Darkness by Chertkow (October 7, 2014, Polarity Ensemble Theatre Books) with a world premiere play written by Engling, Anna in the Afterlife, which will run April 23 to May 24, 2015.

The three works span 35 years of creation, offering a multi-sensory experience when taken as a whole.

In addition to a book release event, Polarity will present a number of readings throughout October and November at bookstores, libraries and book groups. We invite book groups to contact us to learn how to participate.

Purchase tickets online for our benefit or call the Greenhouse box office at 773-404-7336.

Polarity Ensemble Theatre

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